October 30, 2020

Two Witchy Books

two witchy books

Fall is perfect for curling up with a witchy book for the spooky season. I have two fantastic suggestions.

The Once and Future Witches

by Alix E. Harrow

Published October 13, 2020
by Orbit

Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Fantasy

From the publisher: In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witches’ movement.

My Thoughts

This is Alix Harrow’s second novel following her amazing debut, The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Written with the same lyrical and atmospheric style, this historical fantasy is full of emotion. 

She set her story in a fully realized and rich world. Witchcraft is forbidden. Women’s dresses don’t even have pockets – else they might hide the workings for spells. The Suffragette Movement is trying to have a voice with the mayor and council of New Salem.

I loved the complex characters of the three sisters. Alix Harrow did a fantastic job giving each one her own unique voice and POV, goals and desires. Their relationships are relatable, complicated, and realistic.

Not only is this an enthralling adventure, it also addresses serious issues – women’s rights, the rights of BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ rights.

This a haunting but enjoyable read that left me in tears but wanting more. 

Cinders & Sparrows

by Stefan Bachmann

Published October 13, 2020
by Greenwillow Books

Rating: 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Middle grade Fantasy

From the publisher: When a scarecrow climbs over the garden wall, delivering twelve-year-old orphan Zita Brydgeborn a letter saying she has inherited a distant castle, she jumps at the chance of adventure. But little does she know that she is about to be thrust into a centuries-old battle between good and evil. Blackbird Castle was once home to a powerful dynasty of witches, all of them now dead under mysterious circumstances. All but Zita. And Zita, unfortunately, doesn’t know the first thing about being a witch. 

My thoughts

For fans of Howl’s Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones or The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Cinders & Sparrows is about a resourceful young girl prepared to meet challenges head-on and battle the forces of darkness for her friends and family. 

Fast-paced with creepy, atmospheric descriptions, this fantasy will appeal to tweens and adults. Zita is trying to learn how to cast spells while also discover exactly what happened to her family – all with a looming deadline, emphasis on dead.

While full of all things witchy and scary including Zita’s cold and exacting mentor, Mrs. Cantanker, the story has just enough lighthearted moments thanks to the castle’s two young servants, Minnifer and Bram, to keep it from being too intense for younger readers.

Described as a standalone, I hope that Stefan Bachmann has the opportunity to put this descriptive world-building to use in other books.

This dark fantasy with its resilient and resourceful main character is highly recommended.

Thank you to NetGalley, Orbit, and Greenwillow Books for providing ARCs for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

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